Special blog post by ALP athlete Michele Schaeffer

Last weekend I lined up for my first US Pro Road National Championship.  Did I have the race I wanted?  100% no, in all ways.  Even though I came up short of my goals and expectations, this experience was not a failure.

This time last year I was sidelined with a concussion.  BC Superweek was just around the corner and I struggled with the idea of having to watch my teammates participate in arguably the most fun (and local to us!) week of racing on our calendar.  I also found out that my coach at the time, who I immensely enjoyed working with, had to drop me as a client due to a new contract agreement with Cycling Canada.  Bikes aside, I was mid-way through writing my PhD thesis, but could not handle the screen time needed to get it done.  No bikes, no school, and days at home alone listening to podcasts became the new normal.  I was questioning my identity, my support system was changing, and I felt helpless.

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I reached out to Alison in July in an attempt to reject this “new normal” and stay optimistic about the future.  Paddy somehow agreed to take me on (as if an athlete alone is not enough – try adding in a concussion!), and over the past ~10 months she helped teach me a very important lesson: how to be patient.

October was really hard for me.  I was finally back on the bike without symptoms, but my fitness felt behind, even for off-season, and I wanted more / to play catch-up.  Thankfully, Paddy kept me on track with high quality, a reasonable load, and I slowly but surely felt like myself again.

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This season, I won a bike race for the first time.  And then I managed to win another!  I was able to find a guest ride for the stage race that has always been at the very top of my bucket list, the Redlands Bicycle Classic, and I am extremely proud of how I rode at that event.  That experience landed me a late invite to join a team at nationals.  Unfortunately, a seemingly perfect storm of events culminated with me getting sick on race day and I had to pull out on lap 4 of 9.  I could blame a variety of things for this result, but I am choosing to hold myself accountable for how the day played out.  Sometimes learning what not to do is just an important as learning what to do.  Either way, I still got to experience racing US nationals and line up with some of the top riders in the World Tour.  This is an experience (especially had you asked me last year) I never thought I would have.

Some specific personal takeaways (most of which unsurprisingly resonate with previous blog posts from our coaches):

-       Patience is key and training is a process.

-       Control the controllables, and keep focus on those things.

-       Falling short of a goal does not mean failure.

The best news: the US Pro Road Nationals course will be the same in 2019 so I get to give it another go.  Paddy and I both know how to better prepare me for a second attempt and hopefully avoid major surprises on race day.

Up next: BC Superweek *not from the sidelines* :)

Photo credit(s) to Drew Coleman (@lcn_pdx).

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